Environmental activist and President of reEarth Sam Duncombe yesterday renewed calls for the release of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) submitted to the government by Disney Cruise Lines for its multimillion-dollar Lighthouse Point development.
Duncombe was speaking during the launch of the Global Cruise Activist Network, a worldwide group of activists as well as those who represent the concerns of cruise victims and cruise workers, demanding changes to the cruise industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Disney submitted its EIA over eight months ago; the public has not seen a word of it, we continue to remain in the dark over it,” Duncombe said during the virtual press conference.
“We would really like going forward that the government of The Bahamas undertake an environmental impact assessment of the entire cruise industry in the country, to determine whether or not or how we should go forward if at all.”
Disney has said that its EIA, which was submitted to the government in December, is based on extensive field work, robust data collection and analysis, direct engagement with those who have studied the site, the species observed there and an exhaustive review of available literature. It has maintained that it will only move forward with the project if it is able to do so in an environmentally responsible way.
Regarding the greater changes to the cruise industry in The Bahamas, Duncombe said she’d like to see the government address the issue of flags of convenience and called for a ban of any further private cruise ports.
“There’s been a number of incidents where we’ve known that cruise ships have dumped in our waters and we’ve done absolutely nothing in terms of getting them to pay for it,” she said.
“In The Bahamas we have seven different private cruise ports and according to the Ministry of Tourism’s statistics, 75 percent of our tourists are cruise ship passengers but they only account for 11 percent of the tourism revenue. So, in a private cruise port the earnings for the host country are even less.
“So we would also like a ban on anymore private cruise ports and absolutely in terms of their general function moving forward that they really need to clean up their act and do better.”
The Global Cruise Activist Network is focused on ten specific principals: self-determination for each home port, economic impacts, labor, climate change, air and water pollution, monitoring and transparency, environment and biodiversity, public health, crime victims and worker repatriations.
“The Global Cruise Activist Network is calling for an equitable and responsible system of leisure travel that optimizes economic benefits to all stakeholders, while eliminating the negative social, public health and environmental impacts of cruising on port communities, workers and passengers,” said Jane da Mosto of Venice, Italy, a founding member of the group.
“We oppose the return of a ‘business-as-usual’ cruise ship industry. Until these common sense policies are collectively adopted, effectively implemented and consistently monitored, the cruise industry will remain complicit in putting passengers, crew, communities and the planet at risk.”